The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Costume Horror, Creature Film, Gothic Film  |   Release Date - Jun 1, 1958 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Considered by some to be the best Frankenstein film, The Revenge of Frankenstein will nevertheless be a disappointment to those for whom the name is synonymous with the monster rather than the doctor who created it. Those who are not in tune with Hammer Studios' somewhat gory take on the horror genre may also have some problems with Revenge. And, as is often the case with horror films, there are some moments in the screenplay that strain credulity or come across as overly manipulative. Those caveats aside, there's a great deal to praise in Revenge, starting with Peter Cushing's masterful take on the title character. Cushing captures all the contradictory facets of the character, managing to be both subtle and over the top and remaining believable at both extremes. His Frankenstein is both diabolical and tender; he reconciles the disdain and contempt he feels for the elite and the indifference he feels for the poor who are mere suppliers of body parts with the genuine feeling of concern he displays for members of his inner circle. Cushing gets grand support from Michael Gwynn's sympathetic monster and Francis Matthews' intelligent comrade. Terence Fisher directs with a superb mixture of irony and manipulation; the ball scene in which Gwynn's cry for help exposes Frankenstein is a true gem. Jack Asher's lighting is sumptuously atmospheric, and the production design gives the impression of lushness, despite some obvious budgetary considerations. The Revenge of Frankenstein is not for all gothic horror fans, but many will find it one of the pinnacles of the genre.